Musings: Horizons

U2's New Line on the Horizon (2009) - could they get more predictable and boring than this?

Back a few posts ago, I reviewed some of the albums from 1991 that were particularly influential for me and a whole host of Gen-Xers (or are we considered Gen-something-else?) including Achtung Baby by U2. Somehow, that thought led me to thinking of the disaster of the last couple of U2 albums cumulating in No Line on the Horizon. It is bland and unrehearsed and utterly lacking in the urgency or passion of their work up to 1991 IMHO. But that’s not what I want to write about. Thinking about that album’s title made me think specifically about horizons. I live in one of the world’s most beautiful cities but it has no horizon. In fact, it strikes me that I only see the horizon when I escape from the city which, with a wife and two kids here, is increasingly rare. There is something cagey in me that needs to see that horizon I think. Perhaps that’s why going to the seashore – any seashore really – is such a rush for me. Is it the feeling of space or just that definite separation between the concrete earth-bound reality and the ethereal space-bourne one.

I scanned my 424GB library of 86k songs in iTunes and only found a handful with “horizon” in the title. On Dylan’s Modern Times, “Beyond the Horizon” is a nice swingy love song. There is a forgettable Al Jarreau’s “Heart’s Horizon” on an album of the same name. Genesis’ sophomore effort Foxtrot featured a beautiful instrumental acoustic guitar song called “Horizons”. LTJ Bukem has a “Horizons” D&B jam on Logical Progression Level 1. Kitaro’s Oasis also features a typically spacey “Shimmering Horizon”. Perhaps the most pleasant one I found was Sydney Bechet’s “Blue Horizon” from 1944. God, if I had played clarinet like that, I would have gotten laid way before I was 22!

I think that despite my discomfort with rules and process, a horizon helps keep me centered somehow. The lack of one has me running around like a mouse in a maze. That’s one of the most depressing things about the grey periods in Paris (about 1/2 the year if we are perfectly honest), there is no horizon and no sky either. By contrast, the most remarkable places that I have been: the Milford Track on NZ’s South Island, the Great Wall at Simatai in China, San Francisco, Sydney, even Austin’s Lake Travis all featured wonderful horizons including mountains or sea, bays or lakes with that incredible dividing line between earth and sky.

That must be something else for astronauts: being outside the system and thus the horizon is the entire planet Earth below. I wonder if that would give me the bends or be incredibly relaxing…I’d be interested in your comments about the psychological need for horizons or perhaps the philosophical implications of not having them.


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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